The Newspoll shows 59 per cent of the 1717 voters surveyed were in favour of new laws to protect individuals, schools and companies because of their religious beliefs, compared with 26 per cent opposed to providing more safeguards, reports Cath News.
The results could be of interest to the Federal Government which is currently considering the findings of a review into religious protections in Australia by former Liberal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock. The report is yet to be made public.
According to Cath News, about 65 per cent of Coalition voters supported a strengthening of protections for religious freedoms, while 57 per cent of Labor voters also backed the need for more robust protections.
Despite the poll identifying significant support for stronger religious freedom laws, a parliamentary committee this week proposed removing key protections for faith-based educators from anti-discrimination laws, Cath News reports.
A Senate inquiry examining the treatment of gay students and teachers at religious schools yesterday recommended the removal of an exemption at section 38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act.
This exemption currently allows faith-based schools the ability to discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, although it is not used for this purpose by religious schools.
The Senate committee also recommended that “further consideration” be given to amending the Act to prohibit discrimination by faith-based educators against gay teachers and staff.
Attorney-General Christian Porter has made it clear that the government will support the removal of the exemption in the Sex Discrimination Act allowing schools the ability to discriminate against students but he will not remove the exemption that exists for teachers, according to Cath News.
As the debate continues in Australia, an international report has found the majority of the world’s population live in countries where religious freedom is not respected.
According to Cath News, the biennial Religious Freedom in the World report, published last week by the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need International, found 61 per cent of the world’s population faces persecution and discrimination regularly because of their religious beliefs.
The report’s executive summary states that from June 2016 to June 2018, the situation for minority faith groups deteriorated in 18 of the 38 countries assessed and almost half were found to have significant religious freedom violations, Cath News reports.